A Cure From Within: Stem Cell Therapies on the Horizon

4 Min. Read | December 16, 2021

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“Insulin-producing cells derived from stem cells have now been injected into people. The results are short-term, but they are dramatic, with a 90% reduced insulin requirement. If these results hold up, the cure for type 1 diabetes may be in sight.”

— Dr. David Scadden, Founder and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at GoodCell, Co-Founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Mass General Hospital

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder affecting 1.5 million Americans. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas, destroying the body’s natural ability to make insulin and regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin medication to survive. However, a new study featured in the New York Times proposes stem cell therapy to target the underlying cause of type 1 diabetes.

A 64-year-old man named Brian Shelton participated in this groundbreaking clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Researchers infused participants with stem cells containing insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Brian’s body successfully incorporated these stem cells, and he now produces insulin that automatically controls his blood sugar levels. Early results suggest that Brian may be the first individual officially cured of type 1 diabetes.  

The treatment was developed over decades by Dr. Doug Melton, a biologist at Harvard University whose children have the disease. “It is a remarkable result,” said Dr. Peter Butler, a diabetes expert at U.C.L.A., “to be able to reverse diabetes by giving them back the cells they are missing is comparable to the miracle when insulin was first available 100 years ago.” Indeed, the future of stem cell therapy is bright, with promising advancements for spinal cord injuries, macular degeneration and even dental problems.

As more stem cell therapies are created and approved by the FDA, individuals who biobank their own healthy cells will have an edge if they develop life-threatening diseases. GoodCell offers the valuable opportunity to capture your own healthy biomaterials for potential future treatments. Get a head start on your health with FSA/HSA-compliant GoodCell.

References

Aly RM. Current state of stem cell-based therapies: an overview. Stem Cell Investig. 2020;7:8. Published 2020 May 15. doi:10.21037/sci-2020-001

New York Times. A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked.

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